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Tag: Joan C Curtis

A Painting To Die For by Joan C. Curtis

Jenna’s quiet weekend turns upside down when she returns home to find her house totally ransacked, and the police uncover a dead body with her name in its possession. Meanwhile her long-lost cousins show up on her doorstep with stories about stolen paintings, hidden masterpieces—worth millions, Mafia friends, and much more.

While Jenna questions the motives of her dead father in connection to the stolen art, the police find a second body with Jenna’s name in its possession, and she becomes the primary suspect in two murder inquiries. Sidestepping the police and dodging the mob, she and her best friend, Quentin, embark on their own investigation to save themselves and Jenna’s lying, double-crossing cousins from untimely deaths.
A Painting to Die For forms a web of deceit that leaves Jenna doubting everything she believes about her father and his Italian family.

Thank you, Joan, for the review copy!

A PAINTING TO DIE FOR is amateur detective Jenna Scali’s third outing.

She is back at it again, when she gets dragged into another mystery – this time by her duplicitous cousins asking her help to locate a missing painting. Before you know it, she is getting involved with another kind of Family and dragging her best friend Quentin along with her on a wild goose chase. She is as stubborn as ever, hiding her activities from her cop boyfriend as needed. She is also very patient – I would have walked away from her crazy cousins without a second glance. This is where most of my frustration with this story lies; the dialogue and actions of her family are circuitous and vague. I understand that is all with the intention to further the plot, and I will say if Curtis’ intention was to make the reader want to shake Joey & Co until their teeth fell out, she has succeeded! However, it is my opinion that some of the round and round could have been trimmed and the plot wouldn’t have suffered one bit.

I did enjoy the bits of art and Italian history mixed in – it shows that the author has done her research. We also get to learn more about Jenna’s heritage, which makes her character more familiar to us. She is becoming more mature also, as we see her concentrating on her schoolwork and career. Curtis has done an excellent job giving Jenna another layer of personality. A character that doesn’t grow in a series is dull and makes all the books the same. She is still the same sarcastic girl we know and love! Quentin and Starr seem to have taken a back seat to the rotten cousins, which may be why this book seemed different to me. Jenna is still supported by her co-stars, but they don’t seem to be shining through as with the other adventures.

There were some suspenseful parts towards the end, and a few twists that always make for good reading. That being said, I was happy to see her cousins in the rear view mirror at the end of A PAINTING TO DIE FOR. I’d love to see what Jenna will get herself mixed up with in the next installment!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B0762D2X2Z” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Murder on Moonshine Hill by Joan C Curtis

murder on moon

When Jenna decides to go to a friend’s wedding, she expects to dredge up old secrets and old hurts, and she expects to see people from her past, but she doesn’t expect to stumble on a dead body.
Jenna’s friend is arrested. The wedding is cancelled. And Jenna’s tendency to stick her nose where it shouldn’t be leads her into the path of the killer.
Set in the serene mountains of North Carolina, Murder on Moonshine Hill is filled with suspense, humor, and a quirky cast of supporting characters.

 

Thanks to the author for gifting me this review copy!

One of my favorite things about this book is the extensive cast. From ex-best friend to spoiled trophy wife, author Joan Curtis displays her masterful knowledge of character development. Everyone has an agenda – some are selfish, some are hidden, and one in particular is the thing that Jenna is trying to discover.

Imagine getting a wedding invitation from your best friend – the one that broke your heart when she dropped you like a hot potato after a death in the family. Would you turn a blind eye to the snub to see her on the happiest day of her life? Reluctant at first, Jenna decides to go after a hidden plea for help drops out of the invitation envelope. She becomes immersed in the extensive family drama swirling around the joyous (or not) event, and soon it is up to her to save her friend’s life. Even if her friend doesn’t want to be saved.

Curtis enjoys the setting of North Carolina; it’s evident in the loving and descriptive way she describes the scenery. When a book is written in a way where the setting complements the plot, that adds another level of enjoyment to my reading.

Jenna’s friend Quentin is adorably protective of her, often deflecting her overbearing mom’s attention away from her and onto himself, using tried-and-true methods that had me laughing. What girl doesn’t need a Queer Eye For The Straight Girl BFF?

Another hallmark of Curtis’ writing is that the villain is not always obvious. My mental finger was pointed at quite a few people before the troublemaker was finally exposed. I love when a book is written in this manner; my interest is held all the way until the end, no early boredom sets in!

Jenna’s character is not without flaws – she is a strong woman with feelings that can be hurt, as demonstrated in her internal dialogues detailing her confusion and sorrow after her childhood girlfriend suddenly vanishes from her life without an explanation. Most of us have been there in some way or another – but we may never get the chance for closure like Jenna does.

I strongly recommend picking up this book; it’s an easy, well written mystery that will keep you entertained all the way through. You can pick up your own copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B01HWOR4J6″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

e-Murderer by Joan C. Curtis

e-Murderer

 

 e-MURDERER is a race to find a psychotic killer before he kills again.
On this anything but typical Monday morning Jenna Scali, who works part-time for a shrink, opens an email that depicts the brutal death of a young girl. On that same day the police uncover a dead coed two blocks from Jenna’s house. The e-murderer’s description creepily echos the death described in the newspapers.

 

Thanks once again to author Joan C. Curtis, who also wrote THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT, for gifting me this book for review.

 

Jenna Scali is a reluctant participant in the events taking place around her. She gets an email out of the blue that describes a murder, and thinks nothing of it. But when the emails keep coming, and the body count around her starts rising, she realizes that the common thread is her and she’s got to do something before she’s the next victim.

The tone of E-MURDERER is different from CLOCK in that it’s a bit lighter –  the main character hasn’t got a time limit of three months left to live – and so that sense of urgency isn’t in the forefront. However, Curtis does a great job of creating drama with a light hearted touch by including her wonderful Southern humor.  For example: Jenna’s friend and co-worker Starr says  (about digging through patient files on the down low) “We can go through these files like my mama used to go through my diary”. Curtis is also a master of describing odious characters clearly, with descriptions that will have you cringing (oniony breath, yellow teeth–ugh!). It’s always easy to develop a picture in your mind when you read her books, which is a quality I value in an author.

Jenna’s pal Starr is a true outspoken Southern girl and tells Jenna the truth with no holds barred. I just loved all her pithy sayings and sassy attitude. Compared to Starr, I found Jenna a bit wishy washy, when she kept hesitating to go to the police because she didn’t want to cause trouble at her job by possibly violating patient’s privacy. I also wondered at her boss’s seeming lack of concern for Jenna. He seemed mildly interested for a few moments whenever Jenna would try to explain things and talk about murder, then he would brush her off and resume work. I began to get frustrated with both him and Jenna for being so passive. Eventually the danger becomes too much to handle for Jenna and she is off and running, taking matters into her own hands despite her fears.

Plot twists begin to pop up towards the middle of the book, and the action picks up. Jenna begins sleuthing in earnest, and starts to develop feelings for the handsome policeman handling the case. She is also trying to convince her boyfriend that she needs more space, a concept he is having trouble grasping. Once again, Curtis’ character development is dead on, as the clingy boyfriend becomes more and more irritating.

Some of the supporting characters start to appear guilty, but it will not be obvious who the e-murderer is until you get near the end. Curtis gives you just enough information to tantalize you with a hint of suspicious behavior, and then another character seems like a better candidate!

Always enthralling and often amusing, E-MURDERER is another fun and fast read. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B013GR330M” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Clock Strikes Midnight by Joan C. Curtis

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Many thanks to author Joan C. Curtis for gifting me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Janie Knox wants nothing more than to live her life quietly in Savannah, Georgia and never return to her hometown of Atlanta. At age 17, a week after a jury convicted her stepfather of killing her mother,she packed all her worldly possessions in a single duffle bag, hopped on a bus, and vowed never to return. But, when she learns that she’s got three months to live, she journeys back home to finish what she couldn’t do when she left–kill her stepfather.
As the clock ticks away, Janie uses the last days of her life to right the wrongs that have haunted her for 20 years. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution.
The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about unleashing the hidden truths that haunt a quiet Southern family.

This book is truly Southern Gothic—family secrets, manipulation, drinking to ease the pain of loss, plus guilt all around.  This is a plot I can sympathize with–trying to right a wrong in your life before you die, knowing that even if you do accomplish murder, you will also be getting away with it because you only have three months to live.

Janie is as strong as Marlene is weak, and the juxtaposition between the two made for an easy read. Stepfather Ralph is a truly odious character, and I cringed every time he was around. The “bad thing” that makes him a target for murder isn’t explained until the end, but I was rooting for him to lose based on how Curtis described him, with his onion breath and mean eyes.

Even though Janie has murderous intentions, she is a sympathetic character and devoted to her sister, as the reader will discover as more of the plot is revealed. Suspense is generated via the reader knowing the clock is ticking both literally and figuratively on Janie’s life. There are a few close calls, and a flashback that will seem a bit out of place at the time, but once you get closer to the end it will all make sense. I’ll admit I was hoping for a different kind of ending (no spoilers here!), but I was satisfied how things turned out.

Almost all of Curtis’ characters have a flaw: weakness, cruelty, denial, self-absorption–you name it, and it’s in here. There is also love, strength, honor, and friendship. Almost all of the female characters are strong ones, trying to remain in control of their lives despite the curves thrown their way. The main thrust here is justice, a departure from the usual fare of girls chasing men under the guise of romance and pillow talk.  Descriptions of Atlanta make you feel as if you are experiencing the town for yourself, and I could easily picture the characters in my head.

THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT is a sleeper of a book; you turn the pages until you realized you’ve been hooked, quietly, and then you simply must see how things are going to turn out.  I’m glad I took a chance on this one. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link asin=”B00NUGACKO” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link].

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